Monday, May 07, 2007

monday coffee and keyboard

It’s Monday morning in a writer’s life—my second cup of coffee downed, breakfast dishes stowed in the dishwasher an hour ago as the kids headed to school, and Satchmo the Wonder Cat romping and stomping around for his post-breakfast adventure. In a few hours I get to go find out what happens to Almanzo’s pet pig as I read Farmer Boy to very eager third graders.

At home though, every action is akin to pacing with impatience. I’m waiting for word from a scholarship committee, and I desperately need this scholarship to materialize NOW, so I can plan for summer. I mailed a query letter to Mothering magazine, set up a phone appointment for a new start-up magazine called Living Craft, and I need to find the appropriate editor to query for The Boston Globe Magazine. The Interweave Press article is “in the can,” so to speak, just waiting for print, and an online literary magazine features a story of mine—this one doesn’t pay, but it’s not a fibercraft publication, and it’s not a faith-related publication, so IT’S JUST ABOUT THE QUALITY OF MY WRITING, so this is a milestone.

I’m itching to register for classes (Santa Fe! Santa Fe in July!), but I need to wait until the money situation is clearer.

Last week Brendan was home with a fever and I didn’t feel too well, either—my family postponed my birthday celebration until eating seemed like a good idea, and then when eating seemed like a good idea Cape Ann experienced a bout of seriously good weather, and no one wanted to be indoors for any reason other than sleep. We celebrated an early dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, last night, with the staff bringing me a candle-bedecked flan and a whopping sombrero to top off our meals. Scott reminded me that last year at this time, I was applying for a completely different kind of masters degree program, ending a job in an unhappy way, and I had not taken my writing as seriously as I need to. But I was glad for the upcoming summer, just as I am now.

In a few weeks I’ll begin a job with a blog for a major women’s magazine, so if you see that my writing has turned to subjects like hair, clothing accessories and other girl-stuff—stuff I’m practically embarrassed to focus on—it’s an experiment, and I hope you’ll stick with me. Can I write about girl-stuff as a self-respecting forty-five year old? Can I finally admit in public that I wear make-up on a daily basis, even though I appear quite low-maintenance? I miss, miss, miss my life climbing in trees with teenagers, and touring caves for summer camp. But I don’t live a climbing-helmet life these days: I live a hair-product life, a life in which cool-looking shoes need to be noted if they are also insanely comfortable, a how-do-I-lose-some-weight life. And I’ll be telecommuting in just a few weeks, while my kids play at daycamp. It ain’t perfect, but I get paid to write and play with ideas. It’s perfect enough.

Now my writer’s life needs to move to the practical showering and dressing stage, then I need to clear out my bag for the coming week and make my way to a beach walk before my third grade reading group.

It’s coming along, though, this writer’s life. Two years ago I was falling apart. A year ago I was so sad and frustrated. Just now I see a clear path to work on my book and to make money along the way, and my work is a joy. My family seems to be in a good-enough place. My cars are repaired. The weather is beautiful and the gulls are singing for their breakfasts outside in the boatyard.

Now if that scholarship will just come through…


Rock in the Grass said...

Happy Birthday

Denise said...

thank you Pete!

Angie said...

What sort of writing classes do you hope to take in Santa Fe? That's great about your blogging gig.

I write humor and am working on my first book proposal...those suckers are almost as much work as the book!

Hope that scholarship comes through for you. (I hopped over here from Jennifer's blog, by the way).

Denise said...

It's a low-residency MFA program, so I'll be taking the intro classes with my masters "cohort." There are eight of us admitted for this summer, and a total of 25 students in the entire program.

I'll also begin with a sub-group of creative non-fiction writers. And the summer residency is held in conjunction with The Glen Workshop, whose theme this year is"God in the Desert." The conference is related to Image Journal of the Arts and Religion.

I'm just guessing, but I'm thinking we'll be reading our own work and critiquing for some part of it, as well as academic work and getting prepared for the next five semesters. We're writers, so I'm sure there will be writing. Sleep deprivation? Mojitos? I can't wait.

So, part summer camp for writers, part oh-dear-God what-have-I-gotten-myself-into, I think. Isn't that the basic experience of graduate study? Being overwhelmingly buried with good work?

Proposals, grrrr. Don't get me started. How to drive a talented writer berserk with third-person detail...

Iris G said...

Happy Birthday Denise! And I'll keep my fingers crossed for the scholarship ;-)

To write about hair and such can be fun and important, that's what I learned from the movie "The Devil wears Prada".

Denise said...

I frequently write about compost, about dreaded household chores, about necessary car repairs and child arguments-- I don't know why I can't reasonably expect myself to write about other real things, too.

I just have to get over feeling funny about it, or downright hilarious about it.